In June and July we celebrate the Noongar season of Makuru, we recognize NAIDOC week in the ways we can. This year NAIDOC week was postponed however we are still doing what we can and reflecting on the past activites we have done. Last year we welcomed Josh Kelly who visited Kids College. We are all part of our shared Australian culture and we take great delight in our place as early childhood educators to share and celebrate Australia’s Indigenous heritage and build a strong foundation of shared love, respect and caring. 

This article covers:- Kids College activities and events, season of Makuru, Acknowledgement of Country, NAIDOC week 2020, past NAIDOC week, and Bilba the Bilby dreamtime story.

A very special visit by Josh Kelly 

Kids College would like to thank Josh Kelly from Cultural Infusion for our wonderful incursion. We learnt so much and the children absolutely loved it. We learnt that the Didgeridoo makes all kinds of sounds that represent different animals as well as good and bad spirits. We heard Josh play the emu, kangaroo, dingo, honeybee, kookaburra and even a train sound. We all got to act out the dances of the different animals and did a good spirit dance imagining and ball of good energy in our hands. This was a big hit with our children. So if they come home today acting out animals and good energy balls, that’s why.

Josh’s outfit was beautiful full of colours and meanings. His headband represents the colours of the Aboriginal flag, red, yellow and black. His top was from his Binar club and we could see the shooting star story depicted in the design. He showed us some facepaint and explained to us how the paint colours are made by crushing up flowers and plants.

We recorded our visit and have been enjoying watching it back. The children are enthralled with the interesting ideas and sounds. 

We are also quite proud of ourselves as Josh pointed out that we were the first childcare centre to have a yarning circle of our own to come together and celebrate our stories. We had a great time today, Josh, we can’t wait to see you again.

Noongar Makuru season is June and July

The Noongar people divided the year into six seasons. They moved to a different area and fed on different foods during each season.

Makuru was June and July and was the wettest part of the year featuring cold fronts (cold air). The Noongar people moved further inland to hunt where the rain had filled the billabongs and rivers. Hunting for kangaroos and emus would begin and their coats used for clothing to keep warm. They knew the season was beginning when the swans began to molt and there were lots of widjety grubs.

Fire was very important during this season throughout June and July, and travelling groups rarely went anywhere without a smouldering branch of bull banksia held beneath their booka (kangaroo-skin cloaks).

Fire was made using the slender flower stems from grass trees. Fire was perhaps the Noongar people’s most useful and precious resource, with many uses: tool and artefact production, food preparation and cooking, hunting and driving game, warmth and signalling. The campfire provided comfort and company.

Makuru was a time to dig and eat djida pink tuber roots. Swans moulted in June and were easy prey as they were unable to fly. Women and children would drive the swimming birds across a lake or river to the men, who waited to catch the birds.

Bilba the Bilby dreamtime story

Legend has it that Bilba the soft-furred sandhill rat was once a man and lived in a camp with his mate, Mayra, the wind, who was invisible. Bilba could hold conversations with Mayra but much as he wanted to, Bilba could never see his friend. Bilba pleaded with Mayra to become like him so that he could see him as Bilba longed to see someone again. If he could only see Mayra, he would not wish for a better mullaya [mate]. Mayra, despite Bilba’s pleas, was happy to stay as he was as Mayra could see Bilba – he was all right.

One day, after again pleading with his friend to make himself visible, Bilba decided not to go hunting with Mayra that day but he would stay in the camp. Mayra the wind then went off angrily without Bilba. Later that evening, Bilba suddenly heard a roaring in the distance such as he had never heard before. Bilba quickly went up to the sand-ridge behind his camp and made a hole in the soft ground and buried himself in it until the windstorm had passed. Up came the wind tearing on to the ridge, whirling round the camp. On and on he went round Bilba’s hole; but he could not shift it, so howling with impotent rage as he went, Mayra passed on until his voice was only heard in the distance and at length, not at all. After a time, Bilba came out. He had been so safe and warm in his hole in the sand that he lived there ever afterwards; and there he took his wife to live.

To this day Bilba’s tribe live in burrows in the sand. They still hear the voice of old Bilba’s mate. For so angry was Mayra at Bilba’s desire to see his face or leave him that he only howls and roars as he rushes past their camps. Never since has any of the tribes seen where he camps nor does anyone know except the six winds that blow and they tell the secret to none.

Michael J Connolly
Dreamtime Kullilla-Art

Kids College Reconciliation Action Plan

We are working with the Narragunnawali organization and have developed our Kids College RAP. A “RAP” is a formal statement of commitment to reconciliation. A school or early learning service can develop a RAP using the Narragunnawali platform to register existing initiatives or to begin a new journey. RAP Actions are the commitments included in the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). There are 39 RAP Actions, each of which relates to relationships, respect and opportunities, as they play out in the classroom, around the school or early learning service and with the community. At Kids College we chose 16 actions to implement over a year across Kids College.

NAIDOC week 5-12 July 2020Always Was, Always Will Be

Always Was, Always Will Be. recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.

We are spiritually and culturally connected to this country.

This country was criss-crossed by generations of brilliant Nations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were Australia’s first explorers, first navigators, first engineers, first farmers, first botanists, first scientists, first diplomats, first astronomers and first artists.

Australia has the world’s oldest oral stories. The First Peoples engraved the world’s first maps, made the earliest paintings of ceremony and invented unique technologies. We built and engineered structures – structures on Earth – predating well-known sites such as the Egyptian Pyramids and Stonehenge.

Our adaptation and intimate knowledge of Country enabled us to endure climate change, catastrophic droughts and rising sea levels.

Always Was, Always Will Be. acknowledges that hundreds of Nations and our cultures covered this continent. All were managing the land – the biggest estate on earth – to sustainably provide for their future.

Through ingenious land management systems like fire stick farming we transformed the harshest habitable continent into a land of bounty.

NAIDOC Week 2020 acknowledges and celebrates that our nation’s story didn’t begin with documented European contact whether in 1770 or 1606 – with the arrival of the Dutch on the western coast of the Cape York Peninsula.

The very first footprints on this continent were those belonging to First Nations peoples.

Our coastal Nations watched and interacted with at least 36 contacts made by Europeans prior to 1770. Many of them resulting in the charting of the northern, western and southern coastlines – of our lands and our waters.

For us, this nation’s story began at the dawn of time.

NAIDOC 2020 invites all Australians to embrace the true history of this country – a history which dates back thousands of generations.

It’s about seeing, hearing and learning the First Nations’ 65,000+ year history of this country – which is Australian history. We want all Australians to celebrate that we have the oldest continuing cultures on the planet and to recognise that our sovereignty was never ceded.

NAIDOC week 2020 Postponed

The National NAIDOC Committee has decided to postpone NAIDOC Week 2020 (5 July – 12 July) in the interest of safety for our communities. This decision was not taken lightly. 

We have taken on-board the advice from the Federal Government, health experts, our key partners and from leading national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations.

We all believe that an escalating COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis as we head into winter would have disastrous impacts on our mob – especially for our elders and those in our communities with chronic health issues.

We are in the process of finalising a new date for NAIDOC Week 2020  – towards the end of the year  – and we’ll continue to work closely with the National Indigenous Australians Agency and our partners for NAIDOC Week 2020. We will keep you updated.

We still live by the principles

NAIDOC week (originally scheduled for 5-12 July) may have been postponed for now, but celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is something we should be doing every day. Our involvement in the Narragunnawali RAP affords us the opportunity to live these principles in our everyday interactions.

Embedding learning in our everyday actions

Without context, engagement and knowledge, the objects are meaningless and indeed, ‘tokenistic’.

By sustaining the focus on Indigenous Australia throughout the year through activities and excursions, and new books and activities that engage across a range of diverse topics, we can help foster in our children a well-rounded knowledge of Australia’s First Peoples, and help them to develop a respect for diversity and an understanding and appreciation of cultural difference.

Kids College acknowledges NAIDOC week 7-14 July 2019

NAIDOC Week is celebrated from 7 July to 14 July 2019 across Australia to celebrate the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Each year, a theme is chosen to reflect the important issues and events for NAIDOC Week.

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Pictured below is a NAIDOC history timeline highlighting important and crucial dates and events. As we celebrate together, take a moment to look at the steps taken to get us where we are today.

The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Local community celebrations during NAIDOC Week are encouraged and often organised by communities, government agencies, local councils, schools and workplaces.

Wherever you live, you can take part in NAIDOC Week celebrations. To find out about NAIDOC Week activities in your area, contact your nearest Regional office.  

NAIDOC 2019: Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future

Voice. Treaty. Truth. Were the three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.

What does this theme represent?  It highlights the need for Indigenous Australians to have an enhanced role in the country’s decision-making.

The Indigenous voice of this country is over 65,000 plus years old.

They are the first words spoken on this continent. Languages that passed down lore, culture and knowledge for over millennia.

John Paul Janke, co-chair of the National NAIDOC Committee, says the enduring quest for a treaty and for a process known as truth-telling is reflected in this year’s theme.  “Aboriginal people have always been asking for a say in their own affairs and on issues that affect them and we’ve been asking for a treaty or similar agreement for generations. We believe that the best way to do that is to undergo a truth-telling exercise … to tell the true history of this country, and it’s something that the NAIDOC Committee felt it’s time to undertake.”

About the 2019 NAIDOC week poster

Awaken artwork, by Kaurna and Narungga woman Charmaine Mumbulla. Charmaine cares deeply about the 2019 National NAIDOC theme, and about the celebration of Indigenous art and history. Early dawn light rises over Uluru, symbolising our continued spiritual and unbroken connection to the land. The circles at the base of Uluru represent the historic gathering in May 2017 of over 250 people from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations who adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Our message, developed through generations, is echoed throughout the land: hear our voice and recognise our truth. We call for a new beginning, marked by a formal process of agreement and truth-telling, that will allow us to move forward together.

What do we do at Kids College during NAIDOC week?

When planning, organising and thinking of meaningful activities to embed into our programing at Kids College we refer to Narragunnawali’s online platform to provide us with relevant information. It introduces meaningful reconciliation initiatives to use around our centre and within the community.
Narragunnawali is a program of Reconciliation Australia. Reconciliation Australia is an independent, national not-for-profit organisation promoting reconciliation by building stronger relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For NAIDOC week we have had lots of wonderful activities planned. Each day we have read Aboriginal Stories to the children, which include beautiful Aboriginal artworks. We have done some hand painting using the colours of the flags. Explaining the meaning of each colour as we paint them on their hand. Every morning we cite the Acknowledgement to country with the children and lastly we have some Aboriginal symbol playdough cards for the children to re-create using playdough and other natural materials.These are fun and engaging activities, which the children love! As we celebrate NAIDOC week we like to highlight the importance of not only using this week to celebrate the history, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but also focus on continuously embedding meaningful learning experiences into our weekly programming.

Welcome to country at Kids College 

(RAP action 4)

Welcoming visitors

Protocols for welcoming visitors to Country have been part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for thousands of years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups have boundaries – not always marked by geographical boundaries – separating their Country from that of other groups. Crossing into another group’s Country required a request for permission to enter, and when that permission was granted, the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and outlining responsibilities whilst on Country.

As a general rule, if people are travelling from areas outside the location of the event, it is appropriate to have a Welcome to Country. 

Continuation of respect

A Welcome to Country is a continuation of these protocols of respect. A Welcome to Country usually occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can only be delivered by Traditional Owners, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners to welcome visitors to their Country on which the event is taking place. 

This is different from an Acknowledgement of Country which can be given by a non-Indigenous person or an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is connected to another place. A Welcome to Country can take many forms including singing, dancing, a smoking ceremony or a speech in traditional language or English.

Deep connection to country

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain a special connection to Country. Connection to Country is important whether a person lives in the city or in a rural area. This connection has been the core of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander existence since time immemorial and continues to be integral today; influencing spiritual, physical, cultural, social and emotional wellbeing. ‘Healthy Country, healthy people’ is an intrinsic belief held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“Country in Aboriginal English is not only a common noun but also a proper noun. People talk about country in the same way that they would talk about a person: they speak to country, sing to country, visit country, worry about country, feel sorry for country, and long for country. People say that country knows, hears, smells, takes notice, takes care, is sorry or happy. Country is not a generalised or undifferentiated type of place, such as one might indicate with terms like ‘spending a day in the country’ or ‘going up the country’. Rather, country is a living entity with a yesterday, today and tomorrow, with a consciousness, and a will toward life.” – Rose, D. (1996). Nourishing terrains: Australian Aboriginal views of landscape and wilderness (p. 7). Canberra, ACT: Australian Heritage Commission.

Welcome to Country book

We enjoyed a particularly wonderful book with our children. It is called ‘Welcome to Country’ by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy.

This multi-award-winning picture book is an expansive and generous Welcome to Country from a most respected Elder, Aunty Joy Murphy, beautifully given form by Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy.

This book shows us their welcoming ceremony as a cultural greeting by the Elders who give permission for visitors to enter onto their traditional lands. Aboriginal communities across Australia have boundaries that are defined by mountain ranges and waterways. To cross these boundaries or enter community country you need permission from the neighbouring community. Each community has its own way of welcoming country. Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the land is part of us. This is where we come from. Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.

RAP action 9 Acknowledgement of Country

Acknowledgement of Country is different to a Welcome to country

An Acknowledgment of Country is a way for all people to show awareness of and respect for Aboriginal people.  

An Acknowledgement of Country is different from a Welcome to Country, which is a formal welcome onto land and can only be conducted by Traditional Owners or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have been given permission from Traditional Owners to welcome visitors to their Country. An Acknowledgement of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for Traditional Owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country. It can be given by both non-Indigenous people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Symbolic act of reconciliation

The acts of being welcomed to and acknowledging Country are a continuation of protocols that have been practiced for thousands of years. For non-Indigenous Australians, Acknowledgement of Country is a symbolic act of reconciliation as it recognises the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to Country.

Connection to country

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities maintain a special connection to Country. Connection to Country is important whether a person lives in the city or in a rural area. This connection has been the core of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander existence in Australia from the time of the Dreaming and continues to be integral in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ lives today, influencing spiritual, physical, cultural, social and emotional wellbeing. ‘Healthy Country, healthy people’ is an intrinsic belief held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have always held a responsibility for caring for Country throughout Australia.

For more information, you may wish to review Reconciliation Australia’s Let’s Talk: Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country fact sheet

Kids College Acknowledgement of Country

Kids College recognises the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Country on which we live, work, learn and grow. 

We respectfully acknowledge the past and present traditional custodians of this land, which we are meeting the Whadjuk people. It is a privilege to be standing on Mooro country.

 We also acknowledge the contributions of aboriginal Australian and non-Aboriginal Australians to the education of all children and people in this country, we all live in and share together- Australia. 

Children’s version of our Kids College Acknowledgement of County

Here is the land, here is the sky.

Here are my friends, and here am I 

We thank the Whadjuk Noongar people for the land on which we learn and play

Hands up, hands down 

We are on Noongar ground.

Kids College Philosophy

‘We value our collaborative partnerships with professional, community and research organisations and enjoy playing an active role in shaping the future of early childhood education.’

‘We view the context of family, culture and diversity as central to children’s sense of being and belonging.’

National Quality Standards

6.2.3 Community engagement. The service builds relationships and engages with its community

Kids College family

At Kids College we work each day embedding our values and philosophy into each facet of what we do. We continually improve our practices by critically reflecting and engaging in meaningful relationships with our community and for this we need your support and input.

Let us know if you have any comments, suggestions, queries of know of any resources we night make use of. Make sure to follow Kids College Childcare on facebook, watch for our regular emails and keep an eye on our Kids College website. Share in our vision of creating the very best childcare where children experience love, laughter and learning every day. You can reach us on [email protected]

With love, laughter and learning from your friends in the 
‘village it takes to raise a child’
Teacher Jen and the Kids College Childcare family